At first glance, most Yoga poses seem more of a feat of flexibility versus being an exercise for increasing strength. Since the strength of the arms is arguably considered the most when assessing brute power, most beginners indeed do wonder if Yoga can strengthen the arms. Yes, it can.
I was at work the other day and a co-worker of mine who takes Yoga classes suddenly started pumping a 20-pound dumbbell he had nestled in his cubicle. Being that he does this rather frequently, I asked why and his response was “Oh, my yoga classes don’t do anything for my arms.”
I looked at him puzzled and luckily for me, I had a draft of a book with photos of some yoga balancing poses and asked him if he had tried or even knew of them. Surprisingly, he said no and was now eager for me to demonstrate them to him.
This made me wonder, just how many other yoga enthusiasts are of the mindset that Yoga may be inadequate for building arm strength. If you are such a person, nothing could be further from the truth.
Yoga is fantastic for building strength in the arms and although you may never see your biceps bulge through your T-shirt sleeves, I will say you will see an increase in arm strength and endurance that may not occur in perhaps other forms of exercise.
Moreover, some basic Calisthenics like Push-ups, the Plank, and the Dive-bombers do borrow heavily from Yoga.
In my opinion, if one is looking to increase strength in the arms through Yoga, the best exercises to focus on will be the one and only Sun Salutations first.
From experience, when I was having difficulty holding endurance building poses such as the Wheel, Bow, Peacock and Crow Poses-with their variations for a good enough length of time (say an average of 90 seconds and beyond), I discovered by sheer chance that in increasing the number of rounds of the Sun-Salutations (Exercises) mentioned earlier to at least 24 straight rounds, I could hold any of the poses above for a quite a while.
It will be safe to say that is because the muscles are warmed up by this powerful combination of systematic poses for the otherwise moderate to strenuous demands put on them.
In addition, when I started adding Hindu-push ups (a straight yoga derivative as it’s basically Downward Facing Dog meets Cobra Pose repeated in sequence) for an occasional source of variety in working out, these same Sun Salutations increase my endurance to be able to perform a good amount of this Yoga-Esque
That considered, in addition to the Sun Salutations (24+ rounds) the other poses one should focus on for increasing strength in the arms would be the following:
1. The Wheel Pose
2. The Inclined Plane Pose
3. The Bow Pose
4. The several variations of the Peacock Pose
5. The several variations of Crow Pose
6. The Side and Regular Plank pose
In addition, to some degree, even the simple shoulder-stand when performed in conjunction with it counter poses-The Bridge and Fish pose, can definitely come in handy for using Yoga for increasing arm strength.
You know what else, each of these poses also come in extremely useful for toning up the abs and offering in some cases a deep tissue massage to your visceral organs. Bet you free-weights can’t do that eh?
So next time you like my co-worker think or run into someone who thinks Yoga can’t do much for their arms, be sure to tell whoever is applicable to try the poses above, along with the wonderful Sun Salutations.
This will be a classic case of ‘trying is believing”, so give this suggestion a shot and you will be an almost guaranteed increase in the strength of your arms using Yoga that is in no time.